We’ve been giving a lot of attention to the Religious Expression in Public Schools bills because they’re seeing quite a bit action in the Florida legislature. But let’s not forget that we’re also monitoring Instructional Materials bills filed in both chambers (House Bill 989 and Senate Bill 1210). We’re concerned about a few points in the bills, such as the requirement to: “Provide a noninflammatory, objective, and balanced viewpoint on issues.” That’s a potential back door for inserting creationism and climate change doubts into the classroom.
That’s illustrated wonderfully in this Naples Daily News article that was published online today: Teaching of evolution, climate change at stake in Byron Donalds’ bill. I was interviewed at length for this piece and I think our views came across loud and clear.
“This has caused a chilling effect on teachers,” said Brandon Haught, a high school biology and environmental science teacher in Orange City, Florida, and a founding member of Florida Citizens for Science, a group that describes their mission as “defending against attacks on science education from lawmakers.”
Haught pointed out many people find the teaching of evolution and climate change “inflammatory” and “unbalanced,” thus any person visiting Florida who pays tax on a cup of coffee could make the case for teaching creationism and non-human induced climate change in front of a school board. If the majority of the board agrees, those topics would be integrated into the curriculum of each public school in that district.
Others interviewed for the story wave off our concerns as being possible yet far fetched. But then they say …
Keith Flaugh, co-director of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that helped write the language for the bill, doesn’t deny the possibility of that outcome.
“So long as the material is presented in a balanced way, that’s fair game,” he said. “We want kids to get a balanced view of the world, not an indoctrinated view of the world.”
Mike Mogil, co-owner of Mathworks Tutoring in Naples and a former meteorologist, said if the bill is passed he would use the opportunity as a non-parent to challenge how climate change is taught.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 6,000 I would be there in front of the school board,” he said. “If we’re going to teach climate change, let’s teach it in the context of geological changes. Not to say that humans are great stewards of planet Earth — we are not — but CO2 produced by humans is not the primary cause.”
There’s a lot more to the article and I highly recommend that you read it. I feel that reporter Annika Hammerschlag did a very good job.